Well, it's happened. I have finally lost my mind. I did the unthinkable. I ordered Avery an ant farm.
Now, I realize owning an ant farm isn't necessarily an unusual thing. They sell them, after all, so obviously people buy them. In fact, our friends had one a couple of months ago and suggested we get one. I said "HELL NO" even though it looked sort of interesting.
Let me explain why this is unthinkable to me. I hate ants. Not that anyone loves them, but after a very terrifying incident about 10 years ago, I really really really hate them. I found out the hard way that I am severely allergic to certain types of fire ants. When I say severely, I mean the Epi-pen carrying, throat closing, death kind of allergic. I'm not trying to be dramatic, but I don't want to die, so I usually avoid ants at all costs.
So then...why did I purchase a death farm? Because I'm a selfless, loving mother who would rather risk life and limb making my children happy than see them be unhappy. Ok, seriously... Aaron gets points for doing good things at work and then he can use them to go shopping on his company's website. We've gotten some pretty cool things this way, so I was excited to shop when he told me he had points. Everybody got at least one thing and as I searched for something that Avery would love, I came across this ant farm. I passed over it twice before I came back to it. I couldn't find anything else she would go nuts over and I knew she would like this. I decided to swallow my own fear and selfishness and order the dadgum thing.
And you know what? It's just as I thought. They are completely and totally enthralled by this thing. And I am obsessed about making sure no ants get out. One did get out through the airhole this morning and now I'm vigilant about watching those little suckers. The surprising thing, to me is this: once you start watching, those things are interesting. Not just to the kids, either. They work constantly, carrying that gel from one area to the other. It's pretty fascinating.
One thing you need to know though: Read the directions before you go collect ants. A coupon to send off for harvester ants comes with the kit, but it can take up to 6 weeks to receive and if it's too hot outside, they won't send them because they'll die. It's hotter than Hell down here right now, so I'm guessing the ants wouldn't make it 2 minutes in a box in the back of a mail truck. But the directions say you can collect your own ants from outside so we decided to go that route.
Now, ordinarily, any time I'm sitting outside, I see ants everywhere. They crawl on our food, on our feet and on the babies. I call the Terminix guy regularly to come get rid of the ants. They are EVERYWHERE. Unless you are looking for them. We sat outside for 15 minutes last night, trying to find ants. We found four tiny ones. One died almost immediately (I think I squished him a bit when I picked him up.) and the other three were pretty useless. I was starting to think we should go ahead and wait until fall to get the harvesters if we wanted to see some real action.
This morning, I decided to go out back to see if I could find some bigger ones. Jackpot. I found at least 5 really big hard workers. (Well, they could be fat and lazy for all I know, but they looked pretty busy to me.) I put them in the farm and they went nuts. And then, they started attacking the smaller ants that we had collected last night. Apparently, if you are going to have an ant farm, they all need to be from the same colony. And apparently, the Front Yard Colony and the Back Yard Colony are not only different, but they have an ongoing fued. It was brutal to watch. (Actually, it was funny...they actually pummel each other with their little tiny feet....it looks like they are punching the guy.)
I told my sister about the ant farm this morning and she said "Yeah, remember on the movie 'Antz?' The colonies don't get along." Wouldn't you know it? The one movie I haven't seen all the way through. "A Bug's Life," if I remember correctly, never addresses the ant colonies. So it's all my fault that the Front Yard Colony lost a few good men this morning.
Anyway, if your kids are bored this summer, may I suggest that you invest in an ant farm? It's kept the kids occupied for a good hour this morning. Just make sure you get all your ants from the same spot. Or not. Depends on how bored you are. And how much violence you allow your children to see. We are pretty PG-13 around here, so a little mild ant violence is ok with us. In fact, I may run out to the front and see if the FYC has any more fighters out there. Hey, it's summer...nothing but reruns on TV. You gotta create your own entertainment!